Updated: Dec 19, 2022
Friday night was a great night. I saw some of my favorite performers take the stage and as a proud fan, I shouted the lyrics at the top of my lungs...much to the chagrin of other concert attendees. For some reason, something that would have embarrassed me years ago felt so natural and as I screamed louder and jumped up and down, I laughed internally at the scowls on people's faces. Why weren't these people who paid to go to this concert enjoying it like I was? It was then I realized that I had to take a step back. I didn't grow up like most of them. In a society that often uses embarrassment and gossip as a form of social control and social climbing, it's no wonder that fun had a different meaning. I went home that night, albeit exhausted, thinking about this one question: If we were to stop trying to impress others, what type of world might it be? Some would argue that it would be a madhouse. I prose it would be wonderful chaos. The beauty of intense and soft personalities meshing together in abundance would create the most dynamic and eclectic world. Ideas would flow. Innovation would be at an all-time high because intelligence and voices would be unhinged. Many would speak up and out. Many would believe in themselves. Humanity would thrive.
I recognize that those who live to impress are often out of touch with their feelings and reality. They live a life designed for others. There is often a narrow perspective on life and their reluctance to truly live is often interwoven with repetitive cycles of wasted efforts to force the masses to validate their worth. These cycles repeat because there's a longing to fill an empty void of acceptance where rejection once laid its ugly head. So often, people waste money, time, and precious resources to gain a few head nods, handshakes, and hugs but go home feeling unsatisfied. Some even go as far as picking careers, and relationships that simply bring them nothing but anguish. Every night they walk into their homes and lay down their masks of pretense, and fall asleep while scrolling Instagram looking to acquire the latest ideas upon which to build their social status. Can this madness be stopped? Can we find a place of equilibrium where our primal human need to be accepted doesn't tear apart a life designed for joy, peace, and happiness? A place where maybe, just maybe, we can see that on the other side of our fear of rejection, is where we all can uniquely thrive whole and complete. I believe a breakthrough is possible, and it starts by doing some of these things:
Release yourself of the financial responsibility to be liked
It's not your job to make people like you. In fact, taking on this job is rather expensive. If you assume that the latest is the greatest, you'll quickly run out of money trying to woo compliments. The problem is that those whose validation you are looking for will compliment your material thing, not you. "Oh I love those shoes"... "Oh I love that bag" The value that you bring is now reduced to the material thing you bought. You'll spend about 10 minutes talking about the material thing, you'll gain temporary respect and then it'll all diminish. The silence will be loud. If you're going to spend money, spend it on what you love, what's convenient for you, and what makes you feel good. I always ask myself this. If I'm going to buy this, will it make me feel good or will it make others feel good? In some cases, the answer is both but in most cases, you really don't like that ugly designer bag.
2. Like What You Like and Express It Often
Stop limiting the expression of the things you like. In fact, shout it from the rooftop. Your mental health can drastically worsen with stress trying in to act like you don't like what you like. A good friend of mine often says, "an internal yearning slowly kills the heart". Release yourself and be free. Making choices based on what will bring you joy and make sense for you is the true path to self-validation. Wear that dress because you feel beautiful in it. If you like those comfy old hoodies from 1998, wear them. If you like to listen to deep house music, listen to it. Understand that validation comes from within and when you can stand firm in what you like and learn to enjoy it even when others don't, nothing can rock your boat.
3. Be Picky with People
You need to have a value system. What are the things you will and will not stand for? Who will you associate yourself with? The world is already setting negative value systems as the criteria for relationships. Create your own authentic value system. One that revolves around positive values such as integrity, respect, honor, and humility. Be extremely picky with the influences in your life. If you're around people that measure their own self-worth based on society's standards, chances are you'll also want to keep up with them. This is dangerous and detrimental because once you do something that doesn't align with society's negative value system, which they themselves are trying to keep up with, that relationship is likely to fail.
There are so many more ways in which we can solidify our worth. You are worthy just as you are right now and in this moment. You don't need more to be deserving of worth. You are worthy with or without anything and when you commit to your authentic values, ones that bring you true joy, the right things will flock to you and those that are not for you will fall off. A strong tree will always shed the weight of dead leaves. Water your own tree exactly as you like and watch your life grow.